• Research and work on nanotechnology in India started in 2001 with the formation of the NanoScience and Technology Initiative with initial funding of Rs. 60 crores.
  • In 2007, the GOI launched a 5-year program called Nano Mission, it was allocated a budget of Rs 1,000 crores. It had a wider scope of objectives and much larger funding. Fields involved in the mission were: basic research in nanotechnology, infrastructure development, human resources development, and global collaboration.
  • Many institutions and departments were roped in for the work such as the Department of IT, DRDO, Department of Biotechnology, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), etc. In both IIT Bombay and IISC Bangalore, National Centers for Nanofabrication and Nanoelectronics were established.

Results of these initiatives

  • India has published over 23,000 papers in nanoscience.
  • India ranked 3rd in papers published in 2018 behind only the USA and China.
  • There have been many patent applications in this field.

Concerns

  • India spends only a fraction of the amount spent by countries such as the USA, China, Japan, etc. on nanotechnology.
  • The quality of research is also to be improved significantly. Only a small percentage of the papers from India figures in the top 1% of publications.
  • Only 0.2% of the patents filed in the US Patent Office are from India in this field.
  • There are very few students who take up this field.
  • The target number of PhDs in nanotechnology is 10000 per year by the Ministry of HRD.
  • The contribution of the private sector is minimal in this domain. Even though there is a lot of potential, the private sector is yet to show tremendous enthusiasm.
    • Scope for potential:
      1. A team from IIT Madras used nanotechnology to decontaminate arsenic from water.
      2. A team from IIT Delhi has engineered a self-cleaning technology to be used in the textile industry.

Steps by Government

  • Nanotechnology regulatory board to regulate industrial nano products.
  • Nano technology institutes like Indian Institute of Nano sciences at Bangalore,Mumbai,kolkata
  • Nano technology initiatives program by Department of Information technology and for nano electronic products
  • Department of Science and Tech-Nanomission (nano-biotechnology activities) through DBT, ICMR, and CoE in Nanoelectronics by MeitY support nanoscience, nanotechnology, nanobiotechnology, and nanoelectronics activities.
  • Eighteen sophisticated analytical instruments facilities (SAIFs) established by DST across India play a major role in the advanced characterization and synthesis of nanomaterials for various applications.
  • The Center of Excellence in Nanoscience and Nanotechnology established by DSTNanomission helps research and PG students in various thrust areas.
  • Thematic Units of Excellence (TUEs) for various areas of nanoscience and nanotechnology play a major role in product-based research to support nanotechnology.
  • Visvesvaraya PhD Scheme
    • It was initiated by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) in 2014 with the approval of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) with an objective to enhance the number of PhDs in ESDM and IT/IT Enabled Services sectors in the country.
    • PhD seats were allocated to 97 institutions (IITs, NITs, Central & State Universities etc.) in 25 states and 4 Union Territories.  
    • The scheme is a manifestation of the Prime Minister’s vision of providing world-class education and opportunities for research and development to the students at the bottom of the pyramid in society. 
    • Salient features of the PhD Scheme are as follows:
      • It provides 25% more fellowship amount than most of the other PhD Schemes.
      • Part-time PhD candidates get a one-time incentive on completion of the PhD.
      • The scheme also supports 200 Young Faculty Research Fellowships in the areas of ESDM and IT/ITES with the objective to retain and attract bright young faculty members in these sectors.
    • Objectives:
      • Give thrust to R&D, create an innovative ecosystem and enhance India’s competitiveness in these knowledge-intensive sectors.
      • To fulfil the commitments made in National Policy on Electronics (NPE 2012) and National Policy on Information Technology (NPIT 2012)
        • They recommend giving special thrust on significantly increasing the number of PhDs in the country to enable India to compete globally in the coming decades, to develop an ecosystem of research, development and IP creation in these knowledge-intensive sectors.
  • INSPIRE Scheme
    • Innovation in Science Pursuit for Inspired Research (INSPIRE) is an innovative programme sponsored and managed by the Department of Science & Technology for attraction of talent to Science.
    • The basic objective of INSPIRE is to communicate to the youth of the country the excitements of creative pursuit of science, attract talent to the study of science at an early age and thus build the required critical human resource pool for strengthening and expanding the Science & Technology system and R&D base.
    • A striking feature of the programme is that it does not believe in conducting competitive exams for identification of talent at any level. It believes in and relies on the efficacy of the existing educational structure for identification of talent.
  • Nanomission
    • It is an umbrella programme aims for the overall development of research in the field of nanotechnology and to make use of its applied potential for economic development.
    • It strives to promote basic research through funding to individual or group of scientists and create centres for excellence for promoting skills and education in this field.
    • Infrastructure development is vital in this field and requires expensive equipment like Optical Tweezers, Nano Indenter, Transmission Electron Microscope (TEM), Atomic Force Microscope (AFM) etc. For the optimum use of these expensive infrastructures and technologies, it has proposed to establish a nationwide chain of shared facilities.

UNNATI Program (UNispace Nanosatellite Assembly & Training by ISRO)

  • UNNATI is a capacity building programme on nanosatellite development.
  • The Programme provides opportunities to the participants from developing countries to strengthen their capabilities in assembling, integrating and testing of nanosatellites.
  • It is an ISRO initiative to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first United Nations Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNISPACE+50).
  • UNNATI programme is being conducted by U.R. Rao Satellite Centre (URSC) of ISRO for 3 years in 3 batches and has a target to benefit 90 officials from 45 countries.
  • The training comprises of theoretical course work on nanosatellite definition, utility, laws governing their impact on space debris, design drivers, reliability & quality assurance and hands-on training on assembly, integration, and testing of nanosatellites.
  • The first batch of this programme had started on January 17, 2019, with 30 participants from 17 countries (Algeria, Argentina, Azerbaijan, Bhutan, Brazil, Chile, Egypt, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Myanmar, Oman, Panama, and Portugal).

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